Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press Review: Are billionaires destroying free speech?

Netflix has a funny way of slipping in and out of one’s life. I can go for weeks not watching new content and all of a sudden a hidden gem appears from near enough nowhere. It’s worth mentioning the content of this review is not new, but the message is important.

I am going to talk about one particular docu- feature called Nobody Speak: Trials of the free press. It’s no secret that I have been and still am to some degree a wrestling fan. The Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal broke a few years back and yes they are words that should never be put together, but hey it happened.

gawker

hogan

The background…

The outcome of such a high profile case wasn’t about the money it seems. Hogan was rewarded (140m) but how he came about getting it came as a big surprise. In fact the Hogan Gawker case is the tip of a somewhat potential totalitarian iceberg that threatens freedom of speech and traditional journalism.

Gawker was, and I stress the word was, an online news blog with a gossip/satirical edge to much of their coverage. Celebrities were called out and even reported in a bitchy light. Headlines sometimes had an ultra-honest message with the website having a core value of saying things how they saw it.

Some years before Hulk Hogan in the light of his marriage break up found himself being filmed by his apparent best friend at the time. The footage showed acts of a sexual nature towards this best friend’s wife. Later on there was even footage of him saying some racial and offensive things. Gawker was approached by someone with the footage and of course they jumped at the opportunity to publish this heavily edited version albeit heavily damaging. Now this is where it gets really interesting.

Secret Benefactor…

It turns out after Hogan sued Gawker the film revealed that he was in fact backed by a silicon valley billionaire. What is even more interesting is during the latter stages of the court case Hogan dropped a particular charge. This charge involved any damages that would be paid to Hogan being done so through Gawker’s own insurance. This meant any damages would have to instead come direct from Gawker – this would in turn liquidate the firm. So it became apparent Hogan wasn’t just looking for compensation he was trying to bury Gawker; and he did!

theil

Trump and Thiel 

Peter Thiel; billionaire supporter to Donald Trump, Paypal founder and beneficiary to Facebook early on turned out to be financially backing Hogan’s law efforts and hence comes the main theme of this blog post.

A billionaire essentially funded the destruction of a major media news outlet. Of course this is subject to opinion but Peter Thiel had once been personally attacked by Gawker in a particular article that outed him as ‘gay’. He essentially funded the bankruptcy of a news blog for revenge and even went on to say the Hogan Gawker win was “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” 

The argument..

Hogan v Gawker only took up a portion of this hour and half documentary that instead lifted the lid on how close we are to billionaires controlling the press. The days of traditional investigative journalism are dying, and yes even if it was ‘wrong’ to publish a sex tape of a former wrestler it is still freedom of speech and having a media company like Gawker stamped out of existence all because of a billionaires grudge, well that’s a dangerous path.

Trump Factor

At the moment we have a billionaire in the White House and a man who hates the media with a passion. The documentary touched on this subject showing footage of Trump directing audience members at various rallies to yell abuse/attack the media and press! Of course he pretty much established the concept of fake news and has a somewhat fixation of allowing the media to be sued. One of his ambitions is to make this easier whilst in office.

First amendment…

The right to journalism and freedom of speech in America is governed by the first amendment. After consulting google this is what I found:

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’

The truth

So my conclusion after watching this insightful and eye opening film is that freedom of speech and the truth is being stamped out by people with enough money to do so! Does this mean journalists will stop covering people who they are afraid of being sued by? Is this what the word has become? I thought democracy was based upon freedom of opinion and speech? To me this is just bullying from people who think they have more power!

In the past journalists have journeyed for the truth and found it. Can the truth just be bought and sold by billionaires? That’s the true message this film is giving us. Of course this is all the more prevalent today especially with a global pandemic and Presidential election campaign in full swing.

Have you watched Nobody speak? What do you think? Is the destruction of Gawker damaging to the future of free speech?

The Problem(s) with WWE in 2020…

Fans of pro wrestling have been saying for as long as I can remember that the WWE ‘modern product’ is dying. The truth is, and although I am a casual or even social viewer these days, they may actually be right. Even I’ll admit from a very loose standpoint that I no longer know what they are doing to tell stories. 

Image

Those stories is what first drew me to tune into the then WWF all the way back in the late 90’s. The men and women who collided in the ‘squared circle’ were gladiatorial super heroes to me – the whole pageantry of the bright lights and a ruckus crowd pulled me in and even inspired me to be a stage performer. But that was then, and now what stands in place of a company that seemed to be on the constant up is a plateau of ‘cash grab’ style events that most probably keep it afloat.

Of course I am talking about the multiple event deal WWE is aligned with putting on in Saudi Arabia who are opening their doors to more and more mainstream entertainment. While these ‘shows’ may do wonders for the WWE’s bank balance their true investment in the global fans is suffering for it. Their latest event which last Thursday saw a popular modern day Champion known as Bray Wyatt (the Fiend) drop his belt to a part timer and star of yesteryear Bill Goldberg (who wrestled a handful of times in the past few years). Their match lasted no longer than their entrances and even left me asking questions.

Aged multi billionaire owner Vince McMahon is at the very forefront of ‘creative’ decisions and has been since most probably the stone age of wrestling. And with the short term of pleasing a singular audience in mind he is pretty much imploding the company’s rep from within. WWE has been a money making super business for some time now but their tunnel vision towards making that cash has began to unravel and even casuals like me can see it from afar. You can see the reactions from the twittersphere…

fan reaction

Part time performers seem to be a theme these days in WWE with McMahon acclaimed ‘attraction’ Brock Lesnar being a high profile champion for some years but only appearing every now and then. In fact he appears on a sometimes monthly basis and hence demotes the rest of the roster. This whole ‘nostalgia’ thing is great for one night but it has no longevity for the performers looking to prove themselves and become big stars of their own.

goldberg tweet

I guess even billion dollar companies ‘sell out’, that’s why they are worth billions but how long can they sustain doing things like this? Those who are ‘smartened up’ will know there is another wrestling promotion in the US which has recently emerged known as All Elite Wrestling. They too are backed by a billionaire and could eventually ‘go places’.  Perhaps WWE’s days are numbered… thank God I’m not a full time viewer these days…

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press Review: Are billionaires destroying free speech?

Netflix has a funny way of slipping in and out of one’s life. I can go for weeks not watching new content and all of a sudden a hidden gem appears from near enough nowhere. It’s worth mentioning the content of this review is not new, but the message is important.

I am going to talk about one particular docu- feature called Nobody Speak: Trials of the free press. It’s no secret that I have been and still am to some degree a wrestling fan. The Hulk Hogan sex tape scandal broke a few years back and yes they are words that should never be put together, but hey it happened.

gawker

hogan

The background…

The outcome of such a high profile case wasn’t about the money it seems. Hogan was rewarded (140m) but how he came about getting it came as a big surprise. In fact the Hogan Gawker case is the tip of a somewhat potential totalitarian iceberg that threatens freedom of speech and traditional journalism.

Gawker was, and I stress the word was, an online news blog with a gossip/satirical edge to much of their coverage. Celebrities were called out and even reported in a bitchy light. Headlines sometimes had an ultra-honest message with the website having a core value of saying things how they saw it.

Some years before Hulk Hogan in the light of his marriage break up found himself being filmed by his apparent best friend at the time. The footage showed acts of a sexual nature towards this best friend’s wife. Later on there was even footage of him saying some racial and offensive things. Gawker was approached by someone with the footage and of course they jumped at the opportunity to publish this heavily edited version albeit heavily damaging. Now this is where it gets really interesting.

Secret Benefactor…

It turns out after Hogan sued Gawker the film revealed that he was in fact backed by a silicon valley billionaire. What is even more interesting is during the latter stages of the court case Hogan dropped a particular charge. This charge involved any damages that would be paid to Hogan being done so through Gawker’s own insurance. This meant any damages would have to instead come direct from Gawker – this would in turn liquidate the firm. So it became apparent Hogan wasn’t just looking for compensation he was trying to bury Gawker; and he did!

theil

Trump and Thiel 

Peter Thiel; billionaire supporter to Donald Trump, Paypal founder and beneficiary to Facebook early on turned out to be financially backing Hogan’s law efforts and hence comes the main theme of this blog post.

A billionaire essentially funded the destruction of a major media news outlet. Of course this is subject to opinion but Peter Thiel had once been personally attacked by Gawker in a particular article that outed him as ‘gay’. He essentially funded the bankruptcy of a news blog for revenge and even went on to say the Hogan Gawker win was “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” 

The argument..

Hogan v Gawker only took up a portion of this hour and half documentary that instead lifted the lid on how close we are to billionaires controlling the press. The days of traditional investigative journalism are dying, and yes even if it was ‘wrong’ to publish a sex tape of a former wrestler it is still freedom of speech and having a media company like Gawker stamped out of existence all because of a billionaires grudge, well that’s a dangerous path.

Trump Factor

At the moment we have a billionaire in the White House and a man who hates the media with a passion. The documentary touched on this subject showing footage of Trump directing audience members at various rallies to yell abuse/attack the media and press! Of course he pretty much established the concept of fake news and has a somewhat fixation of allowing the media to be sued. One of his ambitions is to make this easier whilst in office.

First amendment…

The right to journalism and freedom of speech in America is governed by the first amendment. After consulting google this is what I found:

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.’

The truth

So my conclusion after watching this insightful and eye opening film is that freedom of speech and the truth is being stamped out by people with enough money to do so! Does this mean journalists will stop covering people who they are afraid of being sued by? Is this what the word has become? I thought democracy was based upon freedom of opinion and speech? To me this is just bullying from people who think they have more power!

In the past journalists have journeyed for the truth and found it. Can the truth just be bought and sold by billionaires? That’s the true message this film is giving us. Of course this is all the more prevalent today especially with a global pandemic and Presidential election campaign in full swing.

Have you watched Nobody speak? What do you think? Is the destruction of Gawker damaging to the future of free speech?